It all started in the middle of June 1999 when my best friend Erik "Chris" Patten and I were attending various films and seminars during the Florida Film Festival. One evening while driving around town looking for trouble to get into, Chris remembered hearing that one of the parties for the festival was to be held at a downtown espresso bar called Harold and Maude's. We stopped at the University of Central Florida student union to look up this place in the telephone book and give them a ring for directions. I can still distinctly remember being there for no more than thirty minutes, turning to Chris and stating how I could see Harold and Maude's becoming my new evening hangout. The irony of that statement is only appreciable now.
As time progressed, that is exactly what happened. My friends and I made Harold and Maude's a regular evening stop to enjoy conversation, various coffees and as I became friends with some of the staff, alcoholic beverages. From that point forward, my attraction to the place only grew and the time spent there greater. There came a point where I really started to feel like I was part of a family, almost like in Cheers. Hell, I had my own spot at the bar I almost always sat at, was served my raspberry cosmopolitans in special, larger cocktail glasses reserved by most of the bartenders for me and was greeted by name by the staff and some regulars when I walked in the door. So it is no wonder that I eventually began working at this place I enjoyed so much. As one of the managers once said, "You are here already, so why not make some money, too?"
In September 2000, I began working fill-in shifts at the Kit Kat Club door, checking identification and taking cover charge money. That temporary position later turned into regular work every Monday and Wednesday evening, picking up additional shifts as needed. Finally, I was made the "door manager" and was in charge of scheduling shifts and making sure things were running smoothly. One of my favourite, yet unfortunate things, was kicking people out and having them trespassed by the police. It was a known in-joke that I was the king of the trespass, which either meant I got a lot more troublemakers when I was on shift, or just put up with less shit than others. I knew the night-shift downtown bicycle OPD cops by name.
I have never again been fortunate enough to work with such a wonderful group of people. Our establishments were frequented by people from all walks of life and our diverse staff represented that as well. It was a great way to meet a lot of interesting people, sample the best and the worst of the local music scene and just get away from it all whilst making money and having fun.
Now, that they have been gone for over a year, I still find myself wanting nothing more than to go there and just sit and hang out. No substitute by any means, but Southern Nights and the Bodhisattva Social Club downtown have taken the place of the Yab Yum threesome for me. I still run into many old regulars and co-workers, which is nice. And as silly as this may seem, I do have a little tribute to Yab Yum on a bookshelf, containing my personal cocktail glasses, a Harold and Maude's menu, ashtray, matches, roll of logo stickers and the stamps I used whilst working. Now if only I would have been able to take the whole place home with me.